CARPE DIEM RECORDS,
December 2003 - online (in Bosnian) at http://www.geocities.com/carpe_diem_records/sch.htm
© carpe diem records, © Rida Attarashany (translation)
An Interview with Senad Hadzimusic - Teno
(By Igor Mihovilović, translated by Rida Attarashany)
1. SCH first emerged in the early 80s. What were your musical influences at the time, both individually and as a band, and what was your music like early on?
Our music was a sort of mixture of new wave, punk and psychedelia. What did we listen to at the time? We were still into punk, hard core, reggae, Gang of Four and similar bands, but older stuff too, like Eno, Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, King Crimson… I can't really remember. A lot of things.
Were you connected to other bands at the time?
We had no particular contacts with other bands.
What kind of venues did you play, what sort of gear did you use?
We principally played Sarajevo clubs such as KUK, AG, but larger venues like Skenderija too. In other cities we also would play clubs, and occasionally larger venues in Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Rijeka, Nis, Koper, Celje… Our equipment: guitars, synths, drums, sax, sometimes congas etc. We also used tapes.
2. Please list for me your early 80s recorded output, how did you do your distribution?
We had two tracks appear on some compilation out on Diskoton. We had a deal with them to release our album but we had a bust up and it fell through. They were too meddlesome. We also put out a couple of home-made tapes. We distributed these by post or during our gigs, tiny quantities.
Was it possible to get stuff released then, even if only for promotional purposes, or was it all a case of DIY, copying tapes and perhaps photocopying covers?
We decided quite early on that we wouldn't release an official album if it meant making compromises. We did have talks [with labels] but our approach was usually quite boorish and so no agreement was ever reached. We never regretted any of these; we simply knew what we wanted and what we could do without. We simply weren't ready to compromise. So it was mainly cottage industry stuff. What helped us were videos and TV appearances. We were known although we'd released nothing. We also worked a lot on our own promotion, using posters. Our gigs, especially in Sarajevo, were always very well promoted.
So could we consider this homemade material as releases as such?
Was it possible to do under-the-counter deals to press your records with labels such as Jugoton or other and handle distribution by yourselves?
At the time it was not possible to release a record independently. You had to have a backer. Things changed for the better around 88-89. We were amongst the first to exploit this change and release an independent record. We also handled the distribution ourselves.
3. When did phase two for the band start? Was there a release on the horizon or did you concentrate on recording and gigging?
The second phase started around mid 85. There was nothing on the horizon, and we didn't really fret over it too much. We regularly recorded and played out.
4. How were you treated in the studios you recorded in? How much money did you have to spend to record a demo or make a record?
We did record in studios a few times, and I believe we only paid for that once, can't remember how much. We often got invited to record, and that would've been for free. We weren't that interested in studio recording, however. We didn't like the way these professionals in the studio thought and worked. We acquired our own little studio and recorded there. This way we were totally independent.
At the time, did you record directly to tape? Did you have control over the sound and the final shape of the material or did someone interfere?
We had no shit from anyone in our own studio. And yes, we recorded on tapes.
5. When did SCH start off on the war theme, and did that have anything to do with the name of the band?
War became our theme in early 1988. Naturally, war wasn't our principal topic. War was just a "necessary" segment of our work, but it wasn't always the central one, far from it. War is something concrete; we were a band that was into ABSTRACTION. War has nothing to do with the band's name.
6. When did your sound change from, let's call it post new wave, into noise rock with some industrial elements, by which I mean the additional "icing" which can be seen from the 'SCH' onwards. How satisfied were you with the results?
This switch from lighter to heavier notes came about in late 1984. By early 85 we already had tracks such as Stari Materijal [Old Material], Zavoj [Curve], and generally all those tracks that would appear a few years later on the tape released by Zalozba FV. We were quite pleased with the effect. We lost a part of our audience who were no longer able to understand or follow our work, but we got some new ones. Actually, this "noise" had driven quite a few people away for good so we never had the same numbers at our gigs, but that core 150-300 people were there, depending on where we played. The fact that some had given up is their problem. There are people who create things and those who simply follow. If you can't follow, well you should have a good think about things. But we equally became more respected; we became a cult band.
Were you into the Swans then or perhaps the industrial records releases in the late 70s? Industrial was later quite degraded by a lot of "stars" who in the 80s transformed it into dull macho metal music with a tinge of underground industrial.
We were into the Swans, Sonic Youth, and similar bands.
I was thinking more of Throbbing Gristle, SPK, even early Einsturzende Neubauten.
Yes we were also into Einsturzende Neubauten. That was essential education, wasn't it?
Was it possible to come across such bands in Yugoslavia in the early eighties, and how???
It was. Someone or other would bring the stuff from somewhere. In Sarajevo we used to have public video screenings of Einsturzende Neubauten, Test Dep. Joy Division etc. As well as videos of various gigs by punk and "dark" bands. People would bring the stuff from abroad.
Did any of these bands have a direct impact on your sound?
Perhaps Einsturzende, the Swans…
7. What came next following your riotous gig in Slovenia and the release of SCH?
Well, we simply became more known, and more wanted. We had daily mail from fans offering support or requesting stuff. At the time we'd do 8-9 town tours in Yugoslavia. We'd do 8-9 city tours within Yugoslavia. This was particularly the case after During Wartime, the album which enhanced our "popularity". We were quite mighty during that period, in so far as an underground can be given the conditions.
When did you start your political work and put forward your plans to help young people in Sarajevo? How successful were you and what lessons did you learn? Did the experience influence your music in any way?
Well, we had formed a political group in early 1988, and through it we tried to change some things. However, already by the close of the year we had given up. We realised that we weren't interested in political work of that nature since it risked removing us from ourselves. After all, it's much better to be involved in art than politics. Politics devours people. Fuck that. Art does not necessarily bring money but is spiritually far better and more rewarding. So, we were only involved in politics very briefly. We later pissed all over such engagement.
8. Was During Wartime a warning, and was it understood as such at the time of its release?
Well, maybe it was a warning, but who gives a fuck about warnings. People don't like that. People don't like to think about what's to come. Most want to hold out until the very last moment and forget about the crap in store for them. They just want to forget. Conformism. Conformism, and self-denial. Some people did get it, those are the ones who appreciated the album. But it was too small a number of people to have made an influence.
Your first vinyl release - how difficult was it to put it out at the time?
I've already mentioned this. It was difficult up to that point but then in mid-88 things started to change for the better in terms of the freedom of private initiative. But you still had to have money to do things. Those with no money or no desire to invest, for them nothing changed. All in all things got better mid-88.
What about distribution? Was there a network of people you could rely on for that sort of thing?
We distributed the record by mail, but we also made deals with people and organisations around the country. We also sold a lot of records through FV, and in those days there were shops you could sell records through. If it hadn't been for the political crisis, and then the war that followed, things would have surely progressed. You could feel that entrepreneurial dynamic, it's a shame it's not like that now. There were loads of bands and releases. Now there's fuck all.
How important were the fanzines for the scene, indeed how concrete was the scene towards the late eighties?
Fanzines certainly played a positive role. Some were bad, but overall there was quite a few, and when you have quantity, quality follows, doesn't it? But we were never dependent on fanzines, we were covered a fair bit in the "normal" press. Fanzines alone wouldn't have cut it. SCH was already a feature of the alternative world. We were already an INSTITUTION. Fanzines were crucial for those starting out, or right on the margin of things. Fanzines were as good and as relevant as the bands, and there weren't that many of those. That alternative scene is equally full of shitheads, we shouldn't dwell on them.
9. Your third album with a war theme was recorded in 1990, and was scheduled for release in 1992 - why not earlier?
No, it was meant for release in 1990. As for why that didn't have, ask Franjic [of Listen Loudest records].
Were you aware that this was the first harsh noise album in ex Yugoslavia (to use the technical terminology, see www.harshnoise.com)? The only difference between you and the rest of that scene is that you arrived at noise through the rock milieu?
No, we didn't know this, but we were aware that it was a unique record. But that's a valid point.
Were you aware of the Japanese extreme noise scene, like Merzbow, Masonna and similar people?
No, I know nothing about it. Perhaps regrettably, perhaps not. The less you listen to, the fewer the influences. We weren't that bothered about listening to other music at the time of White Music. Just a few things. We wanted basic info about what was going on but we didn't swim in the stuff. There's a difference between consuming and creating.
Did that record close your war trilogy? It saddens me terribly to think that in 1992, just before the war in Bosnia, this material was to be released. A testament to the stupidity of our leaders, a testament to another batch of pointless war victims. It's quite symbolic that this is the time you leave the war theme behind...
That record was a logical continuation and closure. I thought it quite fitting, bar for the fact that its release was delayed a couple of years, which was quite a handicap. Another handicap was the fact the record wasn't released as a double vinyl album as agreed with the company. But what is is; you can't tell what things are like until you try. White Music certainly did convey, in a very refined way, all the desolation that was to follow war. The desolation of our souls. It's quite a sad sound, but that was our reality, and still is. Order will come sooner or later; it's just a question of time. I believe it'll be while yet though. That's quite a long period for the average age of man, so there's little room for optimism. White Music is quite nihilistic, although not dark. It's full of living colours. Each individual can find in it a release and spiritual satisfaction, even when you realise that things won't change, not any time soon anyway. The nihilism aside, there's a palpable power there. There's something cathartic in it, something that cleanses and fortifies the soul. That's how I see it anyway. It was no longer necessary to deal with war after 1990, although I stress again that it wasn't our sole preoccupation anyway. Things became clear then, and all that was left to do was lament, which is not something I wanted to do. These three records are full of feelings and atmosphere, but they are rationally conveyed, almost mathematically structured. Some, those cultured and intelligent enough to see through things, could have found solace in the music. And I couldn't give a fuck about the others; they're on the other side anyway.
Tell me more about this, as well as some technical details. How did you produce those two long tracks on the album?
"End" was a 'ping-pong' track. I played a line on the synth and then overlaid it repeatedly with a slight bending of the pitch every time. The overlaying was done on tape and no other instruments were used at that stage. I wanted the track to develop of its own accord so to speak, but only with tiny incremental advances, just enough to denote the fact that things were moving (slow or fast, it's immaterial for the ever-seeing cosmic eye - the perspective of insignificance). I knew that minimalism would be far more rewarding than "gilding" the track, that more would be conveyed.
The second track you asked about is 'Straight to Discipline', and the methodology was similar, except that the basic motif came from a distorted guitar. Using overlay I wanted to create a "liquidity" of sound, a quality mass, like making quality chocolate. The "ping-pong" effect and all other interventions were again made with tapes.
'Our Song' was an easy one. For this one I wanted more "substance", so I simply took a few overlays off Straight to Discipline and thus obtained a more raw sound, as raw as it gets in fact. I added the drums and locked the rhythm of the track. I built an arrangement around it and ended up with something concrete.
It's quite bewildering to think that we made a video for 'Our Song' for Sarajevo TV. It was a very low budget affair but it was shown on TV, incredible. A testament to the power of SCH, eh? A number of tracks off During Wartime had videos made for them, all at the initiative of the broadcaster. A couple of videos ('Vagabonds' and 'Master') were even made for a children's TV programme, truly absurdly incredible. These videos were above average as we had recourse to more equipment and know-how. Amazing.
10. How did the start of the war find you? And when and how was your sound transformed into the soft sound of the Gentle Art of Firing (GAF) album?
Psychologically, we were already prepared for the fact that war was imminent. We of course hoped it wouldn't come to that until the very last moment, but it happened.
Emotions are one thing, reality something else. At the outset we still lived under the illusion that the democratic world would come to our aid in our struggle. But none of that happened. The war was not just a war of liberation, it was a battle for sheer survival. Things had taken on a chaotic cataclysmic turn. There was a semblance of order and organisation but not at the level we expected. In fact, it took quite a while for things to fall into place. At one point we understood that the war would last quite a while, longer than we thought. The help we expected never materialised and it was left to the Bosnians to go it alone - hungry, unarmed and scared. Something had to be built out of nothing, which eventually happened. But by then it was regrettably too late for many. I wrote GAF in autumn/winter 1993, probably the worst period of the entire war. 1993 was a truly terrible year. I wrote the tracks in a fucked up atmosphere - there was no electricity, no water, no food… nothing. It was cold and all around us things were gruesome. But we survived.
Just then, the Sarajevo scene erupted. What was the reason for this and what was your role in all that?
The Sarajevo scene was on the up a couple of years before the war. There were quite a few bands, and some were possibly influenced by SCH. It was a dynamic time, it seemed like things were taking off… Many of the people who played in these bands found themselves in the besieged Sarajevo. Following the initial confusion and disorientation, they went back to their music, and this in itself became a form of resistance. There was an accumulation of rage and energy and rock music was one way for people to unwind, to express themselves. We certainly saw some positive fervour in those days, indubitably so. Some bands approached it seriously, more so than ever before. We continued with our regular activities, adapting ourselves to the new situation of course. We played live (we had to continue with our annual Sarajevo gig after all). Work was an imperative for us. People truly felt the need to express themselves creatively. No just rock musicians, artists in general. This was awe inspiring. In the absence of everything that constitutes a normal way of living, in addition to craving bread, water and air, people had the need for artistic creation. It was an interesting and unique experience. These were just the right conditions to see what the city was made of, how cultured its inhabitants were, and how much they care for the finer things. I don't know whether the same thing happened elsewhere under similar conditions, but that's how it was in Sarajevo. Creativity, it seemed, was something that was as necessary as food. The body has its needs, but so does the spirit. This could not be neglected. It was only after the war that things fell apart. But in Sarajevo people were into the arts and it certainly meant a lot to them. It always did and always will. There is always a better way to be.
How is it possible to record and release music under such conditions?
We played four "hack" gigs, in a café. But we played our own music of course. With the money we made, we bought an 8-track, a mixer and some other gear. That's the equipment we used to record GAF. We recorded whenever we had electricity, often using a generator. We did this on the premises of the Obala Art Centre, who both suggested we record and financed the release of our CD. They created the necessary working conditions for us, supplied us with a computer to make the sleeve, some musical equipment, a space in which to rehearse and more besides. It was courageous of them it has to be said, and they even paid us for it. They somehow smuggled the material out of the besieged city and took it to Austria where the CD was produced, at the Sony plant. Then they had to smuggle it all back to Sarajevo. The run was 2000 CDs.
You may be interested to learn how we produced the GAF sleeve. The film director Srdjan Vuletic, who was then still a film student, once recorded a band rehearsal at this house we were using. We then screened the video and had a professional photographer, supplied by the Obala Art Centre, to take pics of the still images on the screen. We then scanned the photos, uploaded them into a computer and manipulated them a bit until we got the final result, ready for printing the sleeve. Scanners were quite rare in Sarajevo those days, but the Obala team managed to get one. The girl who did the design was also from there. The final designs, together with the DAT, were sent to Austria and that was that.
Are you satisfied with the sound? Would you have recorded it differently given different, less extreme conditions?
We're not completely satisfied with the sound. Perhaps we could've done it differently but it is what is. Some people think this one's an SCH masterpiece. It's a powerful record, absolutely. Like all our records ha ha (not very modest, are we?).
But even had we recorded it under normal conditions, we would've done it in the same way, a similar approach. Perhaps it would've been technically better. But fuck technique, the essence is what matters.
11. How and when did the SCH that survived the war and the preceding ten year disband? During the 7 years that followed, had you envisaged eventually reforming the band? What music were you into in the meantime?
The band fell apart suddenly. It happened after our gig in Prague in October 1995. Our drummer left the band and we were stuck. We had a row. This was a difficult moment for me because we had some planned engagements, gigs. Our plan was to continue.
But later I realised that perhaps this was a good time to stop for a while.
There were other things in our lives we had to put in order.
Naturally my intention was to continue, I did not hang up my guitar.
But I was in no hurry, there were other important things. In the meantime
I published a book of SCH lyrics in Prague, and later still put out During Wartime Again, on Polikita records. This was good filler. During this period you ask about, I was listening to a lot of things, as usual. But predominantly electronic music, for quite a few years. I frequented techno clubs a fair bit. In Prague, it was possible to see and hear important DJs and bands. There was a radio station in Prague, Radio 1, which at the time pushed quality music of all sorts. I tuned in often. The station was subsequently bought out and its programming changed a bit, for the worse. But it remained probably the best radio in the Czech Republic.
12. Vril definitely differs from all your other previous albums. Who was this one intended for, and how connected is it to your older material?
It wasn't intended for anyone in particular, same as with the older stuff. I hardly ever do that. As far as I'm concerned, it all makes sense. Regardless of the fact that Vril is shaped differently. But the vision is progressing. Why should I just rely on my old visions?
Could you re-record your old material in an electronic manner?
Theoretically, yes. Certainly During Wartime. Although I'm not too sure about the very old stuff. Probably, with new arrangements. But the thought has not crossed my mind. It could be an interesting experiment but I'm not too inclined to go back. I don't know, perhaps some day I might.
What do you think SCH would sound like, or perhaps those two tracks off White Music, had you had access to today's equipment?
It wouldn't have made any substantive difference. Some might be miffed to lose the sound of, say, real drums, or some other "live" instrument. Working with tapes does have a specific appeal and beauty, that's for sure, but I think you could achieve the same feeling. Both variations carry something beautiful and interesting in them. But for me that's neither here nor there. It's irrelevant how you technically produce something or what kit you use, what matters is the final result.
13. What equipment are you using now and what is your set up for playing out live? How different is it from the old SCH gigs, how successful? What direction are you taking today, in terms of sound and line up? Are you still as powerful live?
Today we play out as a duo. We use backing tracks or computers and play live guitars and sing. And we use video. Sometimes we have guests, like the Japanese girl we had with us in Geneva, but principally it's the two of us. Naturally, our gigs today differ from those in the past. We used to have a classic line-up: guitars, bass, and drums. But even then we used samples and synths. Except that tapes then weren't the basic track on top of which we played. The music was created using our analogue equipment, and the tapes provided "ornamental" elements. Our live appearances remain equally successful more or less. But then nothing is like it used to be. We have no illusions. We also play a lot less today than we used to. Not that it was long tours in those days either. We play the odd gig, we do a good and convincing job and that's all there is to it. I have no intention of expanding the line-up. It might perhaps be good to have one more member, and if someone good comes along we'll do that. But I don't want to go back to the old days in terms of live appearances, with a full line up and instruments. That's tedious. I believe this is just as powerful, but then I'm not just into power. I'm also into subtlety. I like dance, not just "psychedelia" or "severity". It all depends on the so-called transient emotions trailing one another. We have really hard tracks, but also others that aren't. Being hard isn't everything. Why insist on that?
14. What's life like in Sarajevo today? How do you see the future of the band? Are you alone or are there others who're tackling life with a similar energy and courage? Is there a scene as such?
The demographics of Sarajevo have changed dramatically, and that's bad. A new population is there now and it will take time for the city to "infect" them. On the other hand, Sarajevo is a reaaaalllly KICK-ASS city. One should bear that in mind. I may have many gripes about my city of birth but there are things here that simply astound me. Considering how isolated the place is, and the fact that it's not on the main path (geographically speaking), it's quite a mighty place. And considering the fate it was handed and the troubles it has seen, things aren't too bad. Other, perhaps only slightly smaller cities would not have survived all that. They'd have sunk and died away. Some 20% of the city's inhabitants have money, the rest are poor, materially speaking. But this is a delicate political subject, a serious political problem and this interview is not the place for an analysis. Music and all these things are just playthings after all. There exist other pretty serious things which you can't talk about everywhere and anywhere.
As for the future of the band, I have no concerns. The band retains its status and that will not change. I personally have no great ambitions regarding the band, I'm totally freed of such concerns. I work leisurely and have the support of some dear people. Although there are now new generations out there who have not had the chance to see or hear SCH, the band continues to garner respect. The Sarajevo Film Festival uses our Traumkugel track as its theme tune, the festival itself having grown into the most important such event in this part of Europe. As for the scene, there are people here who're approaching their work with a degree of great fanaticism. This has always been a feature of Sarajevo. You could always find good fanatical people here - artists, individuals. It's a large city after all. That said, there is simply no organisation. But that's ok.
15. Please list your top 10 books and records. How can one get hold of SCH material, and what would be the best starting point? How interested are people today in the old stuff? What kind of people are you attracting now? Noise fans? Intellectuals? Electronic music fans?
I'm not going to select books or records but these are some writer and bands I like, in no particular order and off the top of my head:
Burroughs, Kundera, (in my youth I liked Nietzsche & Hesse), Pirandello, Márquez, Borges, Hugo (Les Miserables), Mirsad Sijaric, and with joy I read the works of my friends Sasha Skenderija and Adin Ljuca...
and some others.
Einsturzene Neubauten, Swans, Sonic Youth, Underworld, DAF, Jesus Lizard, Ministry, Marc Almond, Suede, Boy George, Metallica, No-exit, Discharge, Laibach, Napalm Death, Goz of Kermeur, Lefthand Solution, Stereolab… I can't be bothered any more.
Anyone interested in our music should just buy it, pretty please. I'll give anyone instructions on how to do so if you contact me on
Our website: http://www.sch.ba
The Gentle Art of Firing is a good start. Look through the site and read the reviews, as well the lyrics on Songs & Tales. I believe the lyrics would be of interest to those into the written word. There's an equal interest in our older stuff as with the new. Some prefer the older material. But then I do have to say that none of the older records have lost any of their lustre, their quality and vitality. They still let rip.
Our audience was a mixed one. I should underscore that these were not lost souls or tramps, bar for the odd few who wandered there. I suppose it was the spiritual elite of the larger cities, cultured people with functioning minds. Many of them became well known in their own respective fields, or in the arts. And that's more or less what it's like today. Although our older fans are now older and the grey matter is no longer capable of registering and absorbing everything as before. People let go of themselves as they get older. Not all, but most. But even they know who SCH are and what our position is. We've got fans all over the world, not just among expat Bosnians. We produced soundtracks for a few films and that helped the music spread. We have people getting in touch all the time, from punks to Hinduists, from nice mama's boys and girls to writers and poets. Anyway, fuck all that.
16. What's the solution for the ex-Yugoslav space in your view? Should we become a US colony? What advances have been registered in Bosnia, what's the mood? Are people rediscovering their trust?
Not much wisdom to peddle here. I see a chance for us down the line if the European Union shoves us all together into its embrace, demolish our innate primitivism and help us achieve a higher standard of living. And then it'll all depend on how stable the EU itself is. Should that structure wobble, it's curtains for us too. And it's always possible to wobble. Things are not static, we cannot imagine what the future may hold and what unthinkable twists and turns lie ahead. Things move along but it's not necessarily always a smooth ride. Periods of great advancement come along, but then so do periods of regression. One step forward, two steps back. Two forward, one back, and so on. These periods of decay can last for centuries. Dark ages are always possible aren't they? And they will surely come. I'm not confident our peoples are capable of doing it for themselves, or for others, without outside help. I also know why, but I'm not telling. In that respect, the stability of the EU is crucial for us.
The seeds of chaos may not necessarily come from Europe, there are many flashpoints all over the world, and much of that could spread here to Europe (assuming we are a part of Europe?). We could waffle on about this but let's drop it. I'm not too bothered about whether we're going to turn into an American colony. There are far worse things that could happen. A certain uniformity of the world will certainly occur.
We're already there more or less, only small parts of the world are outside that process for now. No prizes for guessing who will dictate the shape of this uniformity. The only unknown is how long this state of globalisation will last. What we think about the process itself matters not one little bit. We're not a factor and there's nothing we can do about it. We are in the machine (hopefully). And why are we powerless to influence anything? Because we're a bunch of NO-MARKS. A gaggle of confused folk. No-marks don't move things, they represent nothing. They live under the illusion that they are relevant in their own tiny shitty corner of the earth. This delusion is their one satisfaction, there's nothing else in their lives. They have nothing to contribute, a heap of nonentities, that's what the ex-Yugoslavs are, with the small exception, perhaps, of Slovenia.
As for Bosnia, things have certainly progressed somewhat, but we're still miles away from where we ought to be. And farther away still from where I'd like to see us. There's a lot of bad feeling around, a lot of mistrust. The young in particular are quite cynical and mistrustful. There is something veeeery suspicious about what's going on here, something that brings to mind Mengele's experiments. It will take decades before we can ascertain whether the experiment has been a success or not. Indeed whether it was an experiment. For the time being, it stinks. But I suppose this state of affairs can't last forever, sooner or later a change will come, one way or another.
Back to SCH Interviews
| ©2002-2012 by SCH | | Updated Jan. 2003 | | Webmaster@S-C-H. com |